Amnesty International India (AII) today launched a new campaign ‘Our Safety, Our Rights’, which aims to create awareness amongst children to help them understand and identify sexual abuse. The campaign seeks to empower children to speak up and report sexual abuse without fear and it will culminate on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child.
The campaign is being organised In collaboration with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), People’s Association for Rural Awakening (PARA), Institute of Social Education, Amnesty International India will engage with children in 400 schools, across four Indian states. Through this campaign, an estimated 50,000 students, parents, teachers and other key stakeholders will be sensitized on the issue of child sexual abuse.
“At a time when there is an alarming increase in reports of child sexual abuse, it is critical to empower children to be aware of the issue and protect themselves. The need of the hour is for schools, in particular, to proactively help prevent child sexual abuse by educating children and enabling a safe environment for them,” said Rajakumari Michaelsamy, Programme Manager of the Human Rights Education (HRE) programme at AII.
The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, published in 2016, revealed that incidents of child rape have increased by over 82% when compared to 2015. The data showed that over 19,000 cases of child rape were registered across the country under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO); and, a total of around 36,000 cases of child sexual abuse, including other forms of sexual assault, were recorded under POCSO alone.
However, these numbers only represent the tip of the iceberg as these are the cases that were reported to the authorities. Studies have shown that cases of child sexual abuse remain largely unreported.
The campaign will be taken up by schools in AII’s HRE in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and will engage with teachers, parents, communities, institutions and state authorities. It will encourage these key stakeholders to commit to building safe environments for children. An activity module has been prepared which provides guidelines, primarily for schools, on how to create awareness and sensitize children and key stakeholders on the issue.